Summary Care Record access to be rolled out to community pharmacies

Summary Care Record access to be rolled out to community pharmacies

June 23, 2015

Community pharmacists across England will be given the opportunity to access the Summary Care Record (SCR), in new plans announced today. This follows a successful proof of concept trial of community pharmacy access to the NHS Summary Care Record (SCR). 

NHS England has commissioned the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) to support all community pharmacies in England to implement access to the SCR.

The SCR provides key clinical information about a patient, sourced from the GP record. It is used by authorised healthcare professionals, with the patient’s consent, to support their care and treatment. Community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians will be provided with secure approved and monitored access to the SCR which will allow them to support patients with better informed and tailored care.

More than 96% of the population have an SCR and it is already being successfully used in many settings across the NHS, such as A&E departments, hospital pharmacies, NHS 111 and GP out of hours services and walk in centres.

Commenting on the announcement, Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for Community and Social Care, said:

“Pharmacists are an untapped resource in our health service – as experts in medicines, they can help people to manage their conditions and take some of the pressure off our GPs. That’s why it makes complete sense to give them the ability to access patients’ summary care records, where appropriate.

So we’re investing up to £7.5 million to give community pharmacists the training and tools they need to access a patient’s summary care record. A pilot has already shown that as a result of this, as many as nine out of ten people can get the help they need from their pharmacist without having to be sent to another service. I encourage all community pharmacists to get involved and further improve the care we can give people in their communities.”

Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services, PSNC, said:

“PSNC has been pressing for access to shared records for over ten years, so we are delighted that NHS England has committed to rolling out SCR access to all community pharmacies; we hope that as many pharmacies as possible will gain access quickly. This will be an important step in the development of community pharmacy services, helping to cement community pharmacy’s position at the heart of primary care, better integrated into health and care systems. This integration is vital if patients are to receive more coordinated healthcare in the future.

But this is not the end of the story as to really enable joined up care pharmacies must have read/write access to full patient records. We will continue to make the case for that.”

Proof of Concept

The proof of concept project, which was managed by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) on behalf of NHS England, involved 140 pharmacies across five geographical areas being given SCR access in late 2014. An evaluation of the impact of the proof of concept project undertaken following its conclusion in March 2015 determined that there are significant benefits to be realised for patients, pharmacists, GPs, and the wider health economy by enabling community pharmacy to have access to the SCR. It also found that the implementation approach has demonstrated that it is possible and practical to provide SCR access to all pharmacy types and settings.

Key finding from the proof of concept project include:

  • In 92% of encounters where SCR was accessed, the pharmacist avoided the need to signpost the patient to other NHS care settings;
  • 85% of pharmacists surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that SCR reduced the need for them to contact the patient’s GP; and
  • In 18% of encounters, the risk of a prescribing error was avoided.

Pharmacy welcomes roll out of NHS summary care record access to community pharmacy

National pharmacy bodies have welcomed the roll out of the SCR in a joint statement from PSNC, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Pharmacy Voice:

We welcome and fully support the deployment of access to the Summary Care Record to all community pharmacies in England. There has long been a consensus across the profession that widening access to health information to community pharmacy will enable safer, better and more accessible care.

The Summary Care Record provides up to date clinical patient information, available 24 hours a day, however this information is only accessible with patient consent. It contains highly relevant information for pharmacists about patients’ medicines and associated information such as allergies and adverse reactions.

We strongly believe by extending Summary Care Record access to community pharmacists people will receive better, safer and more accessible care.

Patients can be assured their records are safe, as they can only be accessed by a registered pharmacist or pharmacy technician using an NHS smartcard and PIN, and then only after the patient has given consent.

A recent pilot carried out in 140 community pharmacies showed that pharmacists were able to help people who needed access to essential medicines by using the Summary Care Record, avoiding an unnecessary visit to their GP.

Pharmacists involved in the pilot were also able to provide safer care with a reduction in the number of avoidable medicines errors.

For example, during the pilot at Woodhouse Pharmacy in Sheffield, a patient contacted the pharmacy outside their GP’s opening hours to ask the pharmacist about a prescription for an antibiotic.

By accessing the Summary Care Record, pharmacist Stewart Kelly identified the patient had an allergy to penicillin. He was therefore able to advise the patient not to take the prescribed Amoxicillin.

Commenting on this Stewart said “Had the patient not contacted the pharmacy, and had I not been able to access their Summary Care Record a significant patient safety incident could have occurred”.

We believe greater pharmacy access to patient health information, including the ability to add useful information to electronic health records where patients give their consent to this, will further enhance patient care and we will continue to push for this development.

We will all be playing our part in full, supporting the profession, pharmacy owners and the wider NHS in ensuring a successful roll out of Summary Care Record access through community pharmacy.

How will SCR be rolled out?

PSNC is working with NHS England, HSCIC and the other national pharmacy bodies to finalise arrangement for the roll out of SCR; implementation is expected to begin in autumn 2015.


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